One Person’s Observations On How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse…

One of my new favorite shows to come out in recent years is The Walking Dead, and it is one of those few shows that has the potential to transcend its target audience well beyond most.  For those who’ve never heard of it, it’s based off of a graphic novel series of the same name and is about how people survive in a zombie apocalypse.    It would be easy to dismiss this show as something for the sci-fi/horror fans, but the writing and acting is done to be very believable – any more believable, and you’d swear that it might be reality TV.

I think there’s a consensus in the population right now of two factors.  First, a lot of people – an exact number has not been found at the point of this writing, but enough people to create over 800 million finds in Google – seem to have a thought as to the possibility of this.  Second, If we were to base this off of the fears of creators (writers, artists, etc who actually create the stories told in books, films, TV shows and song), it’s going to be either nuclear or biological – with a chunk of those in the latter camp think it’d possibly be a zombie apocalypse.  In either case, the majority of people seem to feel it will be created by man, not handed down from God, Allah or whoever your diety or higher power is.

I personally believe that it’s going to be a combination of things – God will be pulling the strings, but mankind’s ultimate doom will be created and handled by Man.  I’m not going to be expecting fire and brimstone raining down from Heaven, or a doorway to Hell to just suddenly appear – I’m expecting nuclear rockets and viral outbreaks to be our undoing.  While the rockets and nuclear warheads are definitely of the past century, we as human beings have had many close calls with virus our entire existence.  The fact that we have been playing with them at all beyond trying to find a cure scares me – and given what I’ve seen in people, I believe that it’s just a matter of time.  Even scarier, if we believe the numerous fictional accounts in film and TV, it won’t be something the government does directly – it will be something completely unintended and mishandled so that it becomes the disaster I suspect it will be.

Whatever your belief, whether you believe that God is going go biblical on us or that one of our fears will come true, I think it’d be to everyone’s benefit to be prepared for it, no matter what it is.  With that in mind, here’s seven things we should be before, during or after an apocalyptic event.

1.  The right amount of health is crucial – If you haven’t seen Zombieland yet, you’re missing out on the best example of this:   One of the opening scenes has a zombie chasing after and catching a big fat guy.  There’s a good reason why fat people are not that prominent on the living side, and it all boils down to what we learned in school if we were among the picked on.  Put quite simply, if you’re not taking care of yourself now, you’d better start – you never truly know when the end of the world will happen, and if it’s a slow death, do you really want to go out as food in the early part?

I picked on fat guys, but there’s also a good reason why you don’t see pro-wrestlers or other super-muscular people among the living.  While all that muscle will help you escape some physical dangers, it will also slow you down.  The more bulk you physically carry before you put any clothes on, the less likely you’ll survive.

The right place to be is muscular enough to handle the majority of the tasks you’ll face without slowing anyone down.  For me, for example, if all of my bulk is muscle, I could top out at 230 – 100+ lbs less than I am now.  Any more, and the chances are that I’ll be too slow for the group; too thin and I might not be able to do the tasks I’ll have to face – I’d probbly want to be between 200-220.

In other words:  If it were to happen a year from now, and I lost my weight, I might be healthy enough to handle what is thrown at me.  If it happens any sooner, though, I am more than likely screwed.

2.  Where you life makes a big difference in survival – Knowing what you face where you live will greatly increase your odds of survival.  For example, living in the midwest is going to leave you less likely to face some disasters like Hurricanes and volcanoes, but will leave you more prone to blizzards and tornadoes.  Some things, like earthquakes and floods, transcend areas, and the best way to be prepared is to be on the right floor of the right buildings.  And, of course, some things like a nuclear bomb or a comet or asteroid crashing into the Earth are simply Kiss-Your-Butt-Good-Bye situations.

In a zombie apocalypse, your best bet is far enough from the big cities to not be worried about how the government handles it, while close enough to be able to watch what  is going on and react accordingly.  In addition, something on a second or third floor that has been cleared out of zombies and unruly people (more on that in a minute) and that has all of the main (permanent, like stairs) put in such a way that nothing and no one can climb up without a rope ladder or something to which can be pulled away in a cinch.  You can always climb up and down a rope ladder, but you never want to leave anything to which, if discovered, can allow them access to you and your safe passage, or that allows them to come in on you by accident.  Let them have the first floor – you can clear them out later.  (Remember, also to have a backup escape, in case there’s multiple people or they figure out a way in…  or they actually do take over that first floor…)

3.  How you work with people will make all the difference – Ever notice that the jerks end up dying at the end of a zombie film?  Isn’t the whole point of what they’re trying to do is to survive?

Let’s be realistic and clear for a second.  No matter whether the disaster is something like a blizzard tornado or something like an outbreak or a post-war attack, or even if it’s just normal, everyday situations, one thing is clear:  the more self centered you are, the more likely you’ll be sacrificed by those around you.  All of us need someone, if for no other reason, than motivation to survive if we’re alone.  We can’t be alone for too long, and how we treat others is going to affect our chances for survival as much as the next guy.

Don’t try to be the leader, don’t try to be the hero – survive until you meet others, then work with them to continue surviving.  That’s all it boils down to.

4.  Have a plan – this is true no matter what the circumstance.  We always hear of the people who died who were not rescued in a disaster and the number of people that had to be rescued – the combined number of those people are usually those that did not have things thought out enough in a disaster.  The best way to avoid disaster is to be prepared for it as much as you can.

Granted, those things considered “acts of God” – Earthquakes and typhoons are good examples – aren’t always going to be the easiest to prepare for.  Still, the general rule of thumb, I think, would be that if it happened in an area once, be prepared for it – you never know when it could happen again.

In the case of a zombie outbreak, you should have enough food, hygenic, medicinal and hunting supplies handy for about 3 weeks of survival – and some in cases, more.  You never know who will need your help, and in some cases, who not to trust.  As I just covered before, you should make sure to have planned escape routes, and as an added suggestion, maybe consider booby-traps around said escape routes – you wouldn’t want to be forced to escape one zombie or a fire only to get into the mouth of another zombie, right?  The more prepared you can be, the better your odds of surviving.

5.   Be prepared to move – This is an extension of the last one, but it’s just as critical.  In the event of a zombie apocalypse, life as we know it will come to a complete standstill – who’s going to sit at a machine making stuff when everyone is trying to dodge all of the undead?  I wouldn’t.  There’s not going to be any police left to arrest anyone, so looting and theft will increase, as will murder.  There won’t be any firefighters, so if the place you’re holed up in catches fire or floods, you’re on your own.

I would limit myself to backpacks alone – one per person.  Any more than that might slow you down.  Likewise, I would not bank on vehicles as a mode of transportation for any long distances.  Big vehicles will more than likely hog up the major areas you’re getting to, while gas-powered vehicles will likely consume a resource that everyone will be clamoring for.  Even bicycles pose a problem as you can be chased down by a zombie – and if you’ve already been riding for a long period of time, you may be too exhausted to outrun any more of them.

Be prepared for a lot of walking, and appreciate when you have rides to get to the next place.

6.  Be sure to have the right tools for the job – If the disaster or apocalypse last for a long time, there may come a time where you will need to hunt – not only to fend off attackers, but for basic simple survival.  You never know when your next meal will be coming off of an animal you had to kill.

In a zombie outbreak, what weapons you can carry will have great impact on how you will survive.  You should have one long-range weapon (gun, bow and arrow – the latter would be very good, due to how much sound a gun makes), a few throwing weapons (I’m talking along the lines of grenades – chances are, unless you’re in the military or have access to either construction-grade dynamite or heavy-duty fireworks, you’ll have to make them on your own), and a short-ranged weapon, such as a baseball bat or sword.   If you can get access to body armor, all the better, though remember that it will slow you down considerably.

Bear in mind that what you carry should fit your needs – giving a shotgun to a 8-year-old is just as bad as giving a muscle-bound juicehead a toothpick and saying, “have at it.”  They might be able to defend themselves against one or two zombies, but if you’re in a heavily-infested area, they won’t last long.  Just because you might be big enough to carry a bazooka, it doesn’t mean that you should.

I’d be carrying a few things:  Bow and arrows, a slingshot (professional grade, not home-made, if possible), a few home-made grenades (Thank God that we still use glass in a few store-bought things – it may mean a lot of spaghetti for a while), and a couple of aluminum baseball bats.  I’d avoid guns as much as possible, both because that type of ammunition you can run out of real fast and because the noise will alert both the people you want coming to your aid and the people and undead that you may not want attacking you.  The slingshot and bow make the most sense, both for the silence and the number of objects you can use in them in case you need ammunition, and the ability to repair them if  something happens.  Granted, you’ll need good aim, but you can always practice that at any of the places you stop at.

Finally – and this only belongs to a zombie apocalypse…

7.  Have a Plan to Kill Yourself – Being prepared and ready for it is not enough to guarantee safety, and you never know when you’ll be infected.   Depending on how you’re bit will play a big role on if you can, and how you handle, this.

If you can, if it’s a slow-moving disease and you have a few hours, do yourself a favor and lock yourself away someplace with a gun where they can not get in.  (You can say goodbye to loved ones, but it’s best to make it quick.)  If you begin to feel yourself get worse, destroy your head – killing yourself any other way will just speed up the disease and make you a danger.

Just in case, although it’s doubtful as to the necessity, people should know what you wish to do should you be bit, regardless of how rapid it spreads.   I would imagine that no one wants to be a zombie, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be one, so it’s pretty obvious I’d want my brains blown out in the event I’m going to become one.  (Please just wait until I’ve taken the last breath.

One last note – my list is based both on observation of what has happened in the world with real-life events (911, Hurricane Katrina) and fan-favorite fictional zombie films (Resident Evil series, The Walking Dead, anything by Romero.)  Although my suggested list is what I would do in this crazy event, it is neither tested nor fool-proof.  I’m sure there are way-better survival guides than what I listed.  These are my thoughts.

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